The sharp jump in factory lamb prices recorded over the weekend and at the start of the week has fed directly through to the live trade in marts.

Factory agents are expressing an insatiable appetite and any friendly rivalry that may normally be seen between factory agents was absent, with reports of agents clashing in a number of sales.

Added to the competition for factory lambs is a scarcity in supplies of good-quality fleshed lambs, with activity from butcher and wholesale buyers inserting another layer of competition.

Top prices recorded this week for butcher-type lambs is ranging from €157 to €164 per head, with select lots hitting as high as €167 to €168 per head on rare occasions.

General prices for lambs weighing 50kg to 55kg range from €152 to €158 per head with lots lacking flesh falling back under the €150 mark.

Good-quality lambs weighing 47kg to 48kg are selling from €146 to €154 per head, with some mart managers reporting that they have encountered some new customers that possess lower negotiating power and who would normally deal direct with factories or through agents opting to sell lambs live.

The vibrant finished lamb trade is inserting more life in to the trade for store lambs.

Lowland lambs are, in most cases, easily breaking a price of €3/kg, with typical prices ranging from €3.10/kg to €3.25/kg and rising as high as €3.30/kg to €3.40/kg where ewe lambs with some breeding potential are concerned.

Prices are also rising for crossbred and Scottish Blackface lambs, but a wide differential exists based on a significant variation in lamb quality.

Prices for good-quality lambs are typically in the range of €2.60/kg to €2.80/kg, with crossbred ewe lambs rising to €3/kg for good-quality types.

The trade for cull ewes is slow to lift in comparison to lambs.

Medium-weight cull ewes are trading from €100 to €130, with large-framed lots rising to €150.

There are not many ewes passing this price point, but prices of €160 to €180 per head have been paid for the right type of ewe weighing in excess of 90kg to 95kg.

Meanwhile, feeding ewes are selling in the region of €90 to €110 for ewes capable of carrying weight and doing a quick thrive.